The kitchen is, arguably, the most important room in your home — it’s where family members, friends and roommates get together to cook, share food, laugh and talk. However, not all kitchens are made equal — some can be quite small, particularly if you’re living in an apartment.

A small kitchen can be an inconvenience, but not an insurmountable one. You can turn your small, compact kitchen into an efficient one — after all, cooking is a little bit easier when everything is within arm’s reach. Here are some small kitchen organization tips that will help you make the most of the space you have at hand:

1. Start by analyzing your own habits

There isn’t a single, definite answer to how to organize a kitchen, because the best way to do it must take into account your own habits. Do you cook three meals daily? Then you need to focus on getting as much counter and storage space as possible. If you don’t cook full meals on a daily basis, but you or your kids use the kitchen for working and studying, you should prioritize a large, sturdy table over a kitchen island or extra counter space.

2. Get tall kitchen cabinets

The best small kitchen cabinets are the tall, ceiling-height ones. Since you don’t have a lot of storage options, it’s essential to make the most of the vertical space, and these cabinets almost double the kitchen cabinets’ capacity. Open shelving sounds very appealing when remodeling a small kitchen because they make the room look larger, but you’re sacrificing a lot of functionality this way.

Shelves provide a lot less storage space, and not everything can be stored on open shelves. Choosing tall minimalistic cabinets with light colors  will prevent the space from looking cramped, while also providing enough space for your kitchen utensils, tableware, and food supplies.

3. Favor multiple-use kitchen appliances

Be mindful about the cooking gear and utensils you are purchasing. There are so many tools out there that do just one, very specific thing — like an apple peeler, an avocado cutter, an egg boiler, and so on. Most of these gadgets can be easily replaced by regular kitchen items like knives and a pot. Small kitchen appliances also take a lot of counter and cabinet space, so only buy items that you actually use on a daily basis. If you only use your sandwich or waffle maker every few months, you definitely can go without them.

Also, if you consider purchasing a new appliance, or tool, favor the ones that do more than one thing — get a multicooker instead of a slow cooker, for example, because the former has far more uses than the latter.

4. Buy sets of things

One common space waster in kitchen cabinets are pots, pens, tableware, cups, mugs and glasses that are not part of a set. You can’t neatly stack or nestle one inside the other with mismatched kitchen items. You can avoid the problem by purchasing good quality sets of cookware and tableware that take up a lot less space and are easier to store. Of course, if you have favorite bowls or mugs, you should keep those — just make sure that the majority of the stuff in your kitchen cabinets is stackable. This strategy also makes loading the dishwasher easier and more convenient, as you can fit more dishes in a single load.

5. Get rectangular storage containers

Rectangular storage containers for sugar, flour, pasta and any other ingredients save a lot of cabinet and pantry space. There’s no “dead space” when using these, as may happen with round containers. You can arrange them neatly in rows and fit more stuff inside your cabinets and your pantry than you thought possible.

6. Pick the right table for your space

If a kitchen island or a full-size table simply takes up too much space in your small kitchen, you have several options. A very practical option is a drop leaf console table that you can extend when needed. You can extend just one side, or both, if you have company over, or if you plan on using it as a workspace as well.  For the rest of the time, it can be a very practical, narrow console table.


You can replace the classic kitchen island — that is indeed useful as it provides space for preparing food and for using your kitchen appliances — with a sturdy, yet compact, kitchen cart. This type of furniture answers the same types of needs as a kitchen island, but it takes up a lot less floor space and is also mobile, allowing you to move it where needed.

7. Rent a self storage unit

Sometimes, not matter what you do, there’s simply not enough space in your kitchen for all your belongings. In such circumstances, your best option is to rent a self storage unit. You can use it for the items you don’t use on a daily basis, but you still need: your elegant china set for fancy dinners, the big oven pan you use to roast a turkey, and so on. A 5×5 storage unit can hold several boxes and even some pieces of furniture, like extra pliable chairs for guests and more.

This solution is practical particularly for people living in large cities, where space is a hot commodity. The cost for a 10×10 self storage unit in New York City, for example, is around $175 per month, but it allows you to keep safe not only kitchen items, but also sports equipment, seasonal clothing, extra furniture, and so on.

8. Use colors to enhance the space

Apart from being practical and well organized, the kitchen also needs to be an inviting, cozy space, so you also should pay attention to design elements. One of the easiest ways to change and improve the look of your kitchen is through a fresh coat of paint — either on walls or on the furniture.

Most people are tempted to use only light colors in small rooms, but your small kitchen will benefit the most from combining light colored surfaces with blocks of solid, bold ones. Use luminous off whites for the big elements of the kitchen (floors, walls, countertops), but play around with darker shades here and there to create more volume and depth in your kitchen. You could add an accent wall, install a colorful backsplash or repaint the base cabinets in a different color.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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